When I wrote the title, I wondered if I was really serious… and let me assure you, I am! Before this season started, I wrote that Ross Stripling just needed to accept that he’s a reliever… and even if he was a starter, he would never be any more than a #5 or #6. Boy, was I wrong! Dead wrong! Ross never bought into accepting he was a reliever and we are all better for it. We saw glimpses of Ross Stripling early on that led us to believe he could be a starter. In the first game of his rookie season, he was (rightfully) removed from a no-hitter after 7.1 innings and with 100 pitches thrown.
He had decent stuff, but not even one great pitch. However, he kept working on his game and at 28 years-old Ross Stripling has evolved and elevated his game until he is one of the Top Starters in the NL. DeGrom, Scherzer, Stripling… all three are at the top right now, but Ross is growing into an Ace. Who would have thought? When he was moved to a starter’s role out of necessity, he improved all four of his pitches, started throwing his curve harder (which gives a sharper break) and developed a cutter. All of his pitches are above average, but with his control and expertise, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
The Top Starting Pitchers in MLB:
- Jacob DeGrom – 1.55 ERA
- Justin Verlander – 1.61 ERA
- Chicken Strip Stripling – 1.76 ERA
Ross is just two inning short of qualifying for the ERA title. To qualify, a player has to have pitched at least one inning for every game their team has played. The Dodgers have played 68 games (they are now 36-32) and Ross has pitched 66.1 innings, so after his next start, he should be among the league leaders.
It’s understood that Clayton Kershaw is likely in decline. We don’t know how steep the decline is, but before the season is over, this could be the playoff rotation:
Bullpen: Wood, Maeda, Ryu, Urias, Alexander, Stewart, Fields, Garcia, Jansen.
This could be a changing of the guard. If Kershaw does not opt out, this could be the rotation next year:
Some of you will say “Well, he has to do it for a while before I call him and Ace.” OK, but it’s pretty obvious to me that he is a real “pitcher” who is now “toying” with hitters. He passes the eye and smell test and with each passing game, Chicken Strip is moving closer to being the Dodgers’ Ace.
Now… watch Clayton come back with a vengeance!
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT by AlwaysCompete
Well Chicken Strip was not the only outstanding pitcher going for the organization last night. Manny Banuelos, Devin Smeltzer, and Dustin May were superlative. The affiliates won 5 out of 7 games.
OKC – 6-1 Win over Salt Lake Bees (Angels)
Manny Banuelos started and went 6.0 scoreless 1 hit innings to win his 7thgame in 10 decisions. He did have 3 walks to go with his 6 K’s. Logan Andrusek, Chad Girodo, Josh Sborz, and Brian Schlitter finished the game with only Schlitter touched up for a meaningless run in the 9th. The offense registered 13 hits in the victory. Henry Ramos went 2-5 with his 13thdouble and 3rdtriple, Alex Verdugo and Rob Segedin each went 2-3, Rocky Gale went 2 -4 with his 5thdouble and 2ndtriple, and Edwin Rios went 2-4 with his 6thdouble. Kyle Garlick added his 7thdouble on the season.
Tulsa – 3-1 Win over Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals)
Devin Smeltzer started and pitched 7 strong shutout innings. This was Devin’s second consecutive 7 inning outing with both resulting in a win, giving him 3 on the year. He has now pitched at least 5 innings in each of his last 6 starts. Billy Moran gave up an unearned run in the 8thand Corey Copping got the final 2 outs to record his 2ndsave on the season. There were no multi hits in the game for the Drillers, but Will Smith hit his 7thHR on the year, with Keibert Ruiz hitting his 7thdouble and Jacob Scavuzzo adding his 6thdouble.
RC – 3-0 Win over Inland Empire 66ers (Angels)
The Quakes and the 66ers went into the 10thknotted in a scoreless tie. The Quakes were first up, and with a runner starting out at 2nd, Cody Thomas and Saige Jenco drew walks to load the bases for Rylan Bannon. Bannon promptly hit a bases emptying triple for the eventual 3-0 victory. Now all that needed to be completed was getting out of the 10thwith that runner starting out at 2nd. No problem…Zach Pop retired his three hitters with one K to complete his 4thsave on 2018. Marshall Kasowski and Michael Boyle were outstanding in relief as well, with Boyle earning his 1stwin on the season.
Great Lakes – 5-2 Loss to Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)
There was not much positive in the pitching for the Loons. Offensively Brandon Montgomery went 2-4 with his 5thHR. 3B Brock Carpenter made his 2018 debut and went 2-4 with a double. C Darrell Miller and SS Moises Perez each had a 2-4 night.
Ogden – 4-2 Loss to Idaho Falls Chukars (Royals)
In a game that I was really looking forward to, the game could not have started out better. Last year’s #11 draft pick SS Jacob Amaya lined a 2-0 single into CF, with RF Kevin Aponte following that with a single of his own. After a 1 out double steal and a strike out, LF Felix Osorio stroked a 2 out 2 run single staking the Raptors to a 2-0 lead. But that is where it all ended for the Raptors. Jose Chacin started and pitched 4 innings giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 9 hits, 0 walks, and 3 K’s. Devin Hemmerich followed with 3.0 IP, allowing 1 run on 2 hits, 0 walks and 2 K’s. Jeremiah Muhammad pitched 1 inning allowing 1 run on 1 hit, 1 walk, and 1K. The Raptors were only able to get 2 more singles in their final 8 innings.
DSL Dodgers Guerrero – 7-4 Win over DSL Indians
CF Edwin Mateo 3-5
SS Eddys Leonard 3-5 with a double (2)
DH Luis Yan – 2-5 with his 1stdouble
DSL Dodgers Robinson – 6-4 Win over DSL Athletics
DH Yunior Garcia 2-4 with aa 3 run HR (1)